Covid-19: Sweeping vaccine mandate to cover 40 per cent of workforce –

Posted: November 1, 2021 at 6:44 am

Businesses will have the unprecedented power to sack staff if they refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19, under sweeping new requirements that will affect almost half of nations workforce.

The new mandate comes as the Government prepares to announce changes on Wednesday to the controversial managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) system, shortening stays for fully-vaccinated returnees within a matter of weeks.

The changes are part of a broader effort to incentivise people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as the Delta variant proves impossible to eliminate.

But some experts warned that new requirements to be vaccinated could backfire.

International evidence for the effectiveness of vaccination mandates is mixed, said Professor Nikki Turner, a GP and medical director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC).

If they are poorly directly, implemented in isolation, or without supportive community approaches in place, they are at risk of backfiring by polarising communities, creating entrenched attitudes and potentially marginalising further.

To succeed, the campaign needed wrap around support for vaccine-hesitant communities, more education and an effort to build trust with those who had concerns about immunisation, she said.

READ MORE:* Covid-19 NZ: Government to extend vaccine mandates to businesses requiring vaccine certification* Vaccine mandate for hospitality and 'close contact' workers welcomed* No jab, no entry: Hamilton businesses weigh up future with vaccine certificates


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says about 40 per cen of the workforce will be covered by a mandate. (File photo)

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday announced all close proximity businesses including restaurants, cafes, gyms requiring vaccine certification for their customers will have to ensure their employees are also vaccinated.

We want workplaces open, customers safe and workers safe too, Ardern said yesterday, adding that businesses big and small had asked for a clear, legal framework.

Staff who refuse vaccination will be given a four week period to get vaccinated before their employment can be terminated.

A persons vaccination status will become increasingly relevant to their daily lives under the Governments proposed traffic light system, which will replace the alert level system when each district health board reaches 90 per cent vaccination levels.

The new rules will mean that about 40 per cent of the country's workers will be subject to a vaccine mandate, including the health and education staff already announced, Ardern said.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood said the new rules would balance public health concerns and the suite of rights that are in place here.

The Government would also legislate to create a simplified risk assessment process that will allow employers who don't fall under a mandate to decide whether they will require vaccination for any of their workers.

We will be working to make it as clear and as simple as possible about when it is reasonable for an employer to require vaccination as a condition of employment, he said.

Under the new traffic light system, the orange light setting would allow businesses to operate without restrictions on capacity or social distancing if they agree to require customers to prove they have been vaccinated through the vaccine certification system the Government is developing.

Hospitality business not using the certification system will not be able to open, but can operate for contactless transactions.

Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said the mandate was a positive step to ensuring safe and healthy workplaces, and would provide legal protection for employers. Feedback has shown some concerns around enforcing a policy that could make employers liable for discrimination on the basis of vaccination status, she said.

National Party leader Judith Collins said the Government should have started work on vaccine certification sooner.

Dr Andrew Chen, a research fellow at Auckland University, said vaccine certificates were just one weapon in New Zealands armoury against the virus.

There are no silver bullets when it comes to Covid, so we shouldnt expect the introduction of a vaccination certificate will make all our problems go away, he said.

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Covid-19: Sweeping vaccine mandate to cover 40 per cent of workforce -

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